Thursday, February 16, 2012

When Helping Hurts

I just finished reading a great book on helping the poor. The title of the book is: When Helping to alleviate poverty without hurting the poor and yourself. It's written by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and is a must read for anyone who has a heart to help the poor. Hopefully that is all of you! :)

One of the key concepts of the book is discerning when Relief, Rehabilitation, or Development should be implemented. Getting this wrong is often why poverty alleviation efforts do more harm than good.

Relief is the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce suffering from a natural or man made crisis. Not very many people are trained to implement this well, although most opt for this method.

Rehabilitation begins as soon as the bleeding stops, and works with victims. This takes time and is often avoided.

Development is a process of ongoing change that moves both the "helpers" and the "helped" closer to being in a right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation. Development is not done to people, it is done with people. This takes even more time and is often avoided.

All of these methods are important, but each one is very specific in its function. For instance, relief is appropriate for immediate Tsunami relief, but can be more hurtful than good for people who really need rehabilitation or development.

If we are to really help the poor, we must choose methods well. This book is full of specific ways to do it. It will really challenge us to rethink some things we might believe are true. Read it, and let's lead well! Let's be a part of the solution to eradicating poverty, not contribute more to it!

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